The Shams 1 solar project will contribute immensely to the Abu Dhabi power sector. Image Credit: WAM/Gulf News Archives

Abu Dhabi: Abu Dhabi has been named the Arab Environment Capital for 2015, an honour bestowed upon the capital by the Organisation of Islamic Capitals and Cities.

The laurel is in recognition of the emirate’s ground-breaking environmental conservation efforts.

The recognition was announced at the 25th edition of the ‘Environmental Protection is a Must’ conference, held in Alexandria from May 16 to 18.

Mohammad Yousuf Al Midfai, Executive Director of the Integrated Environment Policy and Planning Section at the Environment Agency-Abu Dhabi (EAD), received the award on behalf of the emirate.

“This is a great moment for Abu Dhabi. This shows the leaders’ commitment for environmental conservation as they want to make Abu Dhabi a global leader in this sector,” Al Midfai told Gulf News on Wednesday.

The naming will only serve to boost ongoing efforts, he said.

It also marks tangible results that are reaping benefits daily now for the environment since their beginning in recent years.

Masdar, Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company that develops a low-carbon city and clean-energy projects at home and abroad — and also hosts a university — is Abu Dhabi’s major green contribution to the world, he said.

The Environment Agency — Abu Dhabi (EAD) has also developed a diversification-of-energy strategy for Abu Dhabi which is expected to play a major role.

“Our awareness programmes in universities and schools are also very effective,” Al Midfai said.

The National Avian Research Centre and many other projects for species conservation also support global efforts to protect biodiversity, he said.

Masdar’s Shams 1 project, one of Abu Dhabi’s flagship clean energy projects, has been designed to displace 175,000 tonnes of CO2 every year, equivalent to planting 1.5 million trees or taking approximately 15,000 cars off the road. It is one of the largest Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) plants on record with a total installed net rated power output of 100MW.

Masdar’s international wind and solar projects in Spain, the United Kingdom, Mauritania and other countries show its growing acceptance.

Masdar’s low-carbon city is being built on a 600-hectare plot of land close to Abu Dhabi International Airport, around 17km away from downtown Abu Dhabi.

About 40,000 residents and 50,000 commuters are expected inside the city when completed by 2030.

The city is powered by an on-site 10MW (megawatt) solar PV plant and 1MW of rooftop solar panels on the Masdar Institute.